Previous manufacturer located in Plymouth, MI. Circa 1887-1941. Owned and operated by Daisy Manufacturing Company from 1916.
The Markham Air Rifle Company has been credited with the development of the first commercially successful toy BB airgun. Dunathan’s American BB Gun (1971) reported two BB rifles with the Challenger name as the first models made by Markham. However, the gun listed there as an 1886 Challenger actually represents only a single patent model without any markings and almost surely not made by Markham. The second gun, listed as an 1887 Challenger, actually was marked "Challenge" and was made in small numbers, but, again, probably not by Markham. There seems to be no justification for referring to either one under the Challenger name or as Markhams. The Chicago model, which appeared about 1887, made mainly of wood, probably was Markham’s first real model.
The story of how the company grew to producing over 3,000 guns per day in 1916 is one of the great stories of airgun development and production. However, the company did little promotion and eventually was absorbed into the emerging airgun giant, Daisy. The history and models of Markham-King and Daisy became inseparably intertwined for a quarter of a century. Although Daisy ownership began in 1916, the Markham King models continued for decades and the sub-company gradually became known as King. In 1928, Daisy officially changed the company name to King. The advent of WWII probably caused Daisy to issue the last King price list on Jan. 1, 1942. Much of the model information in Dunathan’s book has now been superseded, but this pioneering work absolutely is still required reading.
There are many variations of the early Markham air rifles. All minor variations cannot be covered in this guide. Variations may include changes in type or location of sights, location and text of markings, muzzle cap design, etc.
The authors and publishers wish to thank Robert Spielvogel and Dennis Baker for assistance with this section of the Blue Book of Airguns.